A model study of the end bearing capacity of piles in layered calcareous soils
The results of a series of over 120 model tests to study the end bearing capacity of piles in layered calcareous soils are described. The tests were carried out on samples enclosed in a cylindrical testing chamber, 450 mm diameter and 450 mm high, which allowed independent control of horizontal and vertical stress in the range 25 kPa to 500 kPa. The samples consisted of a loose, uncemented calcareous sand consisting predominantly of foraminifera and mollusc micro-organisms (D50 = 0.2 mm, calcium carbonate content 92%). Into this was built a layer of the same material artificially cemented by a gypsum plaster. The layer had similar properties to naturally cemented deposits, and layers with unconfirmed crushing strengths in the range 500 kPa to 4000 kPa have been prepared. All samples were tested dry. Closed end model piles of 16mm diameter were jacked at 0.1mm/s into the sample, and continuous profiles of end bearing capacity obtained during penetration. A parametric study has been carried out to examine the effects on the bearing capacity of stress level, K0, cemented layer thickness (0.5 pile diameters to 5.0 pile diameters) and layer strength. In addition, tests have been conducted with different pile geometry, multiple cemented layers, and using dynamic installation techniques. The study has identified ranges of parameters for which brittle failure of the cemented layer occurs (low stress levels and high layer strengths) and ranges where the failure is ductile (high stresses and low layer strengths). Characteristic patterns have been observed of the variation of end bearing with position as a layer is penetrated. Examination of the samples after testing has revealed details of failure mechanisms. Simple procedures are proposed for modelling the bearing capacity of such layered systems, and some implications of the results for design methods are discussed.